August 21, 2017

Be Medicinewise Week – Medicine misuse can happen to anyone

This week is NPS Be Medicinewise Week – an annual event to promote the safe and wise use of medicines across Australia.

This year’s campaign focuses on medicine misuse but what exactly is medicine misuse?

Here is some useful information from NPS.

Medicine misuse

If you’re NOT taking your medicines as directed, then you may be misusing them.

You might be:

  • Taking medicines at the wrong time, or the wrong dose.
  • Sharing your medicines with family or friends.
  • Taking multiple medicines which could lead to incorrect dosing or side effects.
  • Taking medicines with other substances like illegal drugs or alcohol.

Misusing medicines can harm you or someone you care about. It leads to health problems, addiction or dependency, poor judgement and accidents, as well as legal trouble. Simple actions can prevent medicine misuse.

Follow advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and read the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully, and always remember to dispose of any expired or unwanted medicines safely by returning them to your pharmacy.

Here are some stats and facts that you might not already know about medicines:

  • Alcohol interacts with over 150 medicines
  • Codeine-related deaths are on the rise
  • Every year in Australia, more than 5,000 children end up in hospital due to unintentional household medicine poisonings
  • One in 10 Australians over 14 years old has misused prescription pain-relievers or opioid medicines
  • Sleeping pills are not useful long-term and can do more harm than good.
  • Expired and unwanted medicines can be returned to any pharmacy at any time for safe disposal

Sydney pharmacist Nick Logan says Be Medicine Wise Week is a timely reminder to take control of your health – and the health of your families.

“It’s important to read the labels and dosing instructions of your medicines carefully, and ask your pharmacist if you need anything clarified. Be Medicine Wise Week is also a good opportunity to review what’s actually in your medicine cabinet. Anything that’s expired – or no longer needed – should be return to your local pharmacy for safe disposal,” Nick said.

Return Unwanted Medicines (or the RUM project) urges everyone to follow three simple steps:

Read your medicine labels to check for expiry dates.

Remove any expired and unwanted medicines from your home into a bag or container. If the medicine comes in a cardboard box, that can be recycled separately.

Return expired and unwanted medicines to your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will ensure they are put in a secure bin for safe disposal.

Information regarding NPS Be Medicinewise Week can also be found here.

Watch NPS Be Medicinewise Week’s “How to be Medicine Wise” video below.

The Return of Unwanted Medicines Project is a free service that offers a way to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines safely and conveniently at your local community pharmacy. Find out more about the service here.

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